Reasons to Visit
The most economical and by far the most popular way to experience South Africa is on a self drive. The roads are good, traffic tends to be light and driving is on the left.
Within easy driving distance of Cape Town, the valleys of Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek have become known as 'The Winelands'. Here you can admire the manicured rows of green and russet vines and even stop to sample the local tipple.
Cape Town – one of the world’s great cities, Cape Town has excellent accommodation, is easy to explore and is the gateway to the Wine Regions and Garden Route. Cape Town is an ideal place to start your trip around South Africa.
Hermanus and Walker Bay, near Cape Town, are perhaps the best places in the world to spot whales from the shore (Jun-Dec). Whale watching trips from boats are also popular in South Africa.
Learn how Ghandi, Paul Kruger and Winston Churchill were all involved in the battle of Spioenkop, during the Boer War, or how a hundred British soldiers held off some 4,000 Zulus at Rorke’s Drift, and how nearly 1,800 were killed a few hours earlier at the battle of Isandlwana.
South Africa offers some of the best safari in the whole of Africa. One of the best places are the private reserves of Kruger Greater Park, where you can see the 'Big Five' (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo).
South Africa boasts some spectacular scenery across the whole country. These include the imposing Drakensberg Mountains, coastal views along the Garden Route, the impressive Blyde River Canyon and the vast Karoo.
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This is a rough guide to when to travel to this region. Choose a month of travel to see typical temperature and rainfall around the country. The ticks indicate our recommended months to travel.
South Africa has three major climatic zones, and Austral seasons so their summer corresponds to our winter, and vice versa.
The Cape Region and Garden Route have a climate very much like that of the south of France: summer runs from October to April and is warm with some rain (and more wind in Cape Town). Late summer is a very pleasant time: cooler, but quite dry and less windy. Winters, from May through to September are cool and traditionally wetter, although this is getting harder to predict.
In KwaZulu-Natal a sub-tropical climate ensures hot, humid summers along the coast with more rain than in the winter, which is pleasantly warm during the day and cooler at night.
The Wild Coast has a milder version of the same climate, a few degrees cooler and not as humid.
The Lowveld, around the Kruger Park, and the Highveld plateau that dominates much of the rest of the country experience hot summers with short, spectacular storms, and pleasant winters with gentle daytime temperatures and little rain. The Highveld is cooler than the Lowveld, and winter nights can fall to freezing and below.
South Africa has excellent whale-watching opportunities, especially in October, which is the low tourist season. The climate during this month is warm and average temperatures are a pleasant 20°C (68°F).
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Further reading:Tours in South AfricaRegions of South AfricaItinerary IdeasTrain JourneysPlaces to GoThings to DoAccommodationAbout South AfricaCountry Guides
Other countries in Africa:BotswanaKenyaMadagascarMalawiMauritiusMozambiqueNamibiaRwandaTanzaniaThe SeychellesUgandaZambiaZanzibar ArchipelagoZimbabwe
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